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Miscellaneous FAQs

Compatibility

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*Are GF Products Compatible with Other Brands?

A good rule of thumb is to not mix brands. It might work, it might not. Most paint manufacturers formulate their products to be compatible within a "system" of products.

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*Can I Use General Finishes Products Over Wall Paint?

You can use GF products over wall paint but proceed with caution. Latex wall paints are engineered for a different purpose than wood finishes. Walls generally experience less wear and tear than horizontal surfaces, so they are manufactured without the resin systems that make furniture paint more durable.

DRY TIME: Latex wall paints should cure for 7-10 days before glaze or top coat can be added.

WARNING: Keep in mind that GF cannot guarantee an ideal finish when applying our products on top of or in combination with another company's products. We always recommend that you test for durability and aesthetics on an unseen area of your project before getting started.

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Which Topcoat Should I Choose?

General Finishes Water Based Topcoats:

  • High Performance
  • Flat Out Flat
  • Enduro-Var
  • Enduro Clear Poly
  • Enduro 2K Conversion Varnish
  • Enduro Pre-Cat Lacquer
  • Exterior 450

General Finishes Oil Based Topcoats

  • Arm-R-Seal 
  • Gel Satin Topcoat
  • Wood Bowl Finish
  • Butcher Block Oil
  • Outdoor Oil

GENERAL PRACTICE:

  1. Oil based topcoats and Enduro-Var will amber over time.
  2. Water based Flat Out Flat and High Performance top coats dry clear.
  3. Never use any water based topcoat with long oils such as Danish, Tung or Linseed.
  4. Water based top coats clean up with water. OIl based topcoats require mineral spirits for clean up.
  5. Enduro-Var ADHERES WELL only over WATER STAINS, DYE STAINS, and RAW WOOD.
  6. If you use water based topcoats over oil based finishes, make sure that you wait 72 hours between the two products. It is essential to let the oil finish dry longer.
  7. For more complex projects that have a lot of nooks and crannies or projects with large surface areas such as cabinets, we recommend either ARM-R-SEAL liquid oil based topcoat or any of our water based topcoats. Large surfaces such as cabinets or tables and complex projects with lots of detail are easier to cover with liquid topcoat rather than a Gel top coat.
  8. Enduro Professional Topcoats are thinner and intended to be sprayed
  9. High Performance and Flat Out Flat can also be sprayed. If needed, it can be thinned by adding 5-10% distilled water. 

Compare all topcoats

*How is a Flooring Topcoat Different than a Furniture or Cabinet Finish?

Three features differentiate flooring topcoats:

  1. General Finishes flooring topcoats, such as Pro Image and Pro Shield, are fortified with significantly more urethane to increase durability.
  2. The slip rate of flooring topcoats is higher to improve floor safety and reduce the likelihood of slipping; approximately a 5.7 rating. For example, someone in socks is less likely to slip on a flooring finish, or a basketball player is less likely to slip on a good professional floor finish. Cabinet finishes have a much lower (negative) slip rate because folks want a silky, smooth finish on a cabinet or furniture; approximately a -.4 rating.
  3. A floor finish has more elongation - the finish stretches to provide flexibility over expanding and contracting woods.

 

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Can Oil and Water Based Products Be Used Over Each Other?*

Yes! But you must follow ONE simple rule to ensure the best possible finish: the underlying finish must be absolutely dry.

  • When using a water-based product over an oil-based product, such as water-based High Performance Topcoat over oil-based Gel Stain, wait 72 hours before applying the water-based product.
  • When using an oil-based product over a water-based product, such as oil-based Arm-R-Seal Topcoat over Water Based Wood Stain, wait 24 hours before applying the oil-based product.

OTHER RULES TO REMEMBER

  • You cannot mix water- and oil-based products together.
  • General Finishes Enduro-Var Urethane Topcoat can only be used over raw wood or General Finishes water-based wood stains or dye stains. Enduro-Var cannot be used with any oil-based product, sanding sealer or shellac.
  • Oil-based finishes amber over time; do not use them over white or very light colors.

VIDEO: Can oil and water based products be used over one another?

What are VOCs, Volatile Organic Compounds, and what is their role in stains, paints and topcoats?

What is the definition of VOC?

According to the EPA " Volatile organic compounds (VOC) means any compound of carbon, excluding carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, metallic carbides or carbonates, and ammonium carbonate, which participates in atmospheric photochemical reactions."These carbon-containing chemicals that are labeled volatile because they easily become gases that enter the atmosphere. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds produced by plant and animal processes.

Among the most common sources of VOCs are:
1.    Acetone. Found in: nail polish remover, furniture polish and wallpaper. ...
2.    Benzene. Found in: paint, glue, carpeting and emissions from gasoline combustion. ...
3.    Butanal. Found in: emissions from barbecues, burning candles, stoves and cigarettes. .
4.    Carbon Disulfide. Found in: chlorinated tap water

The main source VOCs in paints and stains are chemical solvents (the ingredients that allow the other additives to blend together) and chemical driers, materials that control dry time.

How can I find out how much VOCs are in my wood finishes?
Look for the manufacturer's SDS (Safety Data Sheet) on their website which contains a complete toxicity review for all pure chemical compounds manufactured and sold in the US, In the paint world, VOCs will vary by colorant, so an SDS should be provided for each color. If you cant find each product's SDS, ask the company for it. 

GF’s water-based products meet all regulatory standards with full reporting disclosure in the form of an SDS (Safety Data Sheets) created by an independent regulatory agency. This is in accordance with the Global Harmony System established in 2015. SDS’s are required to be updated every three years from the original publish date. 

What are the health risks?
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, Health effects may include: 

  •     Eye, nose and throat irritation
  •     Headaches, loss of coordination and nausea
  •     Damage to liver, kidney and central nervous system
  •     Some organics can cause cancer in animals, some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans

How are VOCs regulated?
It's a complicated subject with inconsistencies across all states. VOC requirements are affected by:

  1. Each state has different rules and regulations on VOC limits and shipment requirements.
  2. Each regulatory body categorizes coatings differently. Flats, non-flats, primers, stains, varnishes and industrial maintenance coatings have different restrictions.
  3. Some VOC limits are measured excluding water while VOC levels for Low-Solids Coatings are measured in grams of VOC per liter of material, including water.
  4. Smaller sizes, such as liters or quarts are considered consumer products Vs. architectural products and as such are exempt from the new VOC standards in some regions.
  5. Many solvents are exempt and not labeled as VOC's, such as acetone and ethyl acetate, because they react negligibly in the atmosphere. They do not form ozone at the same speed or to the same extent.
  6. Some VOC measurements include all VOCs emitted from a product into the immediate air environment, while other measurements include only those VOCs that are regulated to control smog levels. According to the EPA, VOC labels and certification programs may not properly assess all of the VOCs emitted from the product, including some chemical compounds that may be relevant for indoor air quality. 
  7. Varying regulatory agencies are involved in regulating VOC limits in the coatings industry. This has led to inconsistency throughout the country. Agencies include the Federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the OTC (Northeast Ozone Transport Commission), the Colorado APCD (Colorado Air Pollution Control Division), and CARB, the California Air Resources Board. 
  • CARB has authority to set and enforce emission standards for motor vehicles, fuels, and consumer products; set health-based air quality standards; monitor air quality; identify and set control measures for toxic air contaminants and oversee local air quality districts.
  • California's SCAQMD (South Coast Air Quality Management District) tops the list as the most stringent agency responsible for improving air quality for large areas of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley. See a list of SCAQMD regulations for 9 categories of coatings.
  • OTC, the Ozone Transport Commission is a multi-state organization created under the Clean Air Act (CAA). It is responsible for advising the EPA on transport issues and for developing and implementing regional solutions to the ground-level ozone problem in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The OTC has several progressive versions of rules adopted by different states in the NE, creating inconsistency throughout the region. The latest Phase IV Model Rule restricts the shipment of gallons of non-VOC compliant finishes containing more than 250 grams of VOC per liter in most counties in the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio. Utah has followed suit. You can read the draft for OTC Rule V here: https://otcair.org/upload/Documents/Meeting%20Materials/OTC_CP_Model_Rule_Phase_V_Draft_04172018.pdf
  • Colorado APCD issued a concept paper in January 2019 that stated that the Division is considering adopting the OTC Phase IV Model Rule for Consumer Products.

Are there VOC-free stains, topcoats and paints?

Reporting standards are imperfect and the definition of low and no VOC can be open to interpretation. Low-VOC or no-VOC products only address a limited range of compounds.

It becomes more complicated.

  1. Some companies tout their products as zero-toxin, zero-carcinogen, and zero-VOC and never provide a Safety Data Sheet. The product can only be zero VOC if the base, the resins, the colorants, and other additives are all zero VOC.
  2. Other manufacturers will claim Zero VOC, but it is only accurate for one color while the balance of the colors do contain VOCs. Or the colorants might be Zero or low VOC, but the tint bases are not.

What is a low VOC level in a paint or stain?
Water-based coatings will always have lower levels of VOCs than oil-based finishes. Beyond that, go as low-VOC as you can. The most used standard is 275 VOC gpl (grams per liter.)

To learn more about making the transition from using oil based finished to water based finishes, watch here

 

Resources

https://www.aqmd.gov/home/rules-compliance/compliance/vocs/rules/coatings

https://www.paint.org/consumer-state-regs/

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/peg.pdf

http://www.aqmd.gov/home/rules-compliance/compliance/vocs/architectural-coatings/tos

https://risos-apa-production-public.s3.amazonaws.com/DEM/REG_10907_20191031141356.pdf

https://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/116241.html

https://otcair.org/

 

 

 

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Luthiers

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How do I repair a section that I have buffed through using Enduro-Var over an epoxy on a guitar

Our first concern is the use of the epoxy. Although you have may had success with this process previously, we do not recommend the use of Enduro-Var with epoxy or any oil based products. Enduro-Var works well on its own or with GFs water based finishes. There is a great possibility that future finishes can fail. 
 
Nor do we recommend adding denatured alcohol, which should not be used in any of General Finishes water based products. Denatured alcohol can change the polarity of a finish formula, kicking out polymer particles that would look like grit on the surface. Denatured alcohol could also deactivate the defoamers in the formula.
 
The use of Extender won't help you. It is a water based product and will not melt through existing layers of finish in the same manner that solvent finishes do.
 
We interpret that you are trying to remove witness lines which are basically sanding marks. For your current situation, we recommend attempting to build the area with just Enduro-Var, then buffing out with a 2000-3000 grit. You may have to sand down and start over if that is not successful.
 
Future forward. Use Enduro-Var on its own. Although it is a favorite among Luthiers, it is a unique hybrid finish that does not pay well with other finishes.

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Spraying Finishes

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*Can I Spray Arm-R-Seal?

Arm-R-Seal can be sprayed successfully, but we prefer hand application methods because it is very easy to spray too much in one area. If you choose to spray, use very thin coats and watch for runs (large drips that run down the side of your project).

If you notice a run, immediately wipe or brush it out. If you correct a run promptly, you will not see a mark. However, dried runs can be difficult to remove.

Wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated spray booth.

Size: Small Needle Nozzle (1mm)
 

 

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*What Sprayer Should I Use?

Although we spray product all the time in our workshop, with several sprayers ranging from airless to HVLP, we do not consider ourselves to be spray gun experts.

To get the latest information, we recommend you contact Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Products and/or Paint Sprayers Plus for the best advice.

Between these two resources, you should get the information you need.

SPRAYERS THAT WE HAVE USED IN THE SHOP

1. The Earlex Sprayer Station 5500 is an entry-level spray gun with a self-contained pressure system that sprays our paint quite well. It comes with a 2.0 mm tip for paints and a 1.5 mm tip for clears. You can learn more about this product by going here.

The Earlex Spray Station 5500 has been used for the following GF spray demo videos:

2. The 3M Accuspray HG18 16570 is also easy to use, It filters the material, and the spray head is disposable. This is one of the units we spray within the woodshop. It uses a 1.5-1.8 mm tip for paints and clears. Check out the 3M Accuspray product listing on Amazon here.

3. Home Decor Sprayer by Wagner is another entry level sprayer that is easy to use, saves time, and works well with GF products. You can purchase this sprayer directly through the Wagner website for under $100- here.

We have used the Wagner Home Decor Paint Sprayer for the following videos:

 

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*Why Does GF Milk Paint Look Different When Applied with a Spray Gun Versus a Brush Application?

Milk Paint Color Seperation

Milk Paint is not like a filler-based wall paint. It is engineered for high-use applications such as tabletops and cabinets that require considerably more durability than a wall. The resins that make Milk Paint durable change the properties of it, so you have to handle it differently.

The type of applicator you use will change the thickness of the film and affect the appearance GF Milk Paint.

When refinishing kitchen cabinets, our contractor customers often roll the face frames and spray the doors. If there are any corners or edges that need to be filled in with a brush, they will fill in before spraying or rolling. Then, they will complete the entire section with one type applicator.

With this approach, you will notice a slight difference between the frame and the cabinet door, but the difference is considerably less obvious than it would be if you sprayed and rolled on this same surface. 

Secondly, always stir the can well just BEFORE and DURING use. When working with a large project, we recommend continuing to stir during use to keep color properties consistent. If there is any delay, the ingredients will start separating.

Color separation is a condition that the paint industry calls "float". This is very typical with specific colors such as grays because of the large variance in gravities of the pigments required to create the color. In gray for instance, Ti02 (white) is 3.4 and black is 1.62. The lower density will float. This phenomena will not occur in colors that have less variance in densities.

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What Causes Orange Peel When Spraying A Water-Based Topcoat?

Orange Peel while Spraying

Orange peel over a stain application

One of the causes of orange peel is the application of too much fluid and not enough atomization to break the product up into smaller droplets. It's similar to putting your finger over the end of a garden hose. Increase the atomization by using smaller fluid tips or a larger spray unit. See General Finishes comparison chart for generally recommended spray tips. Contact your spray equipment manufacturer's recommendations as well.

Another cause can be temperature. Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems, and a space below 55 degrees F is definitely too cold.

 

 

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*How Do I Spray Water Based Finishes?

General Finishes water-based products can be sprayed through compressed air, HVLP, airless or C.A.S. units.

SURFACE PREPARATION:

All surfaces should be clean and free from dirt and oil and sanded.

Indicated below are instructional videos we have for preparing a surface for a new coat of paint or finish:

SPRAY APPLICATION OF GENERAL FINISHES WATER BASED FINISHES:

All General Finishes water based topcoats and wood stains are ready to spray from the container without additives with the exception of Conversion Varnish. Always strain material through a medium to fine mesh filter before spraying. If necessary, in hot or dry climates, reduce 10 to 15% with General Finishes Extender to extend the open time.

PRE SEALING:

Softwoods such as Pine absorb stain at an uneven rate and may respond better to staining if the wood is pre-sealed. General Finishes Pre-Stain Conditioner Natural can be applied to raw wood to condition the surface for uniform penetration of the stain. Pre-sealing will cause the final stain to be lighter so you may need to use a darker color. Always test your color on a hidden part of the furniture. Allow the Pre-Stain Conditioner to dry 30 minutes before applying your final stain color.

If you are using a sprayer that has been used for oil based or lacquers, clean the unit thoroughly with acetone followed with hot water to purge the fluid passage. Apply a thin coat first that will dry and harden faster. Sand this first coat down to a smooth base on which to build your finish coats with a 220-320 grade foam sanding pad or #400-grit sandpaper. It is better to spray 2 thin coats rather than 1 heavy coat.

Contact your supplier to verify proper tip sizes for your specific equipment. GF's general recommended fluid tips for Wood Stains and Top Coats are Compressed air - .040 and Airless - .009. 

RECOMMENDED TIPS FOR GENERAL FINISHES PRODUCTS USING HVLP:

  • Milk Paint: 1.8mm-2.0mm
  • Brushable White Enamel 1.8mm-2.0mm 
  • Stain Blocker: 1.8mm-2.0mm
  • Pearl Effects: 1.8mm-2.0mm
  • Glaze Effects: 1.8mm-2.0mm
  • High-Performance Topcoat: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Flat Out Flat Top Coat: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Enduro-Var  1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Water-Based Wood Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Water-Based Dye Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Exterior 450 Topcoat:1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Exterior 450 Stain: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Enduro Sanding Sealer: 1.3-1.4mm
  • Enduro White Poly: 1.3mm-1.5mm
  • Enduro Black Poly: 1.3mm-1.5mm
  • Enduro White Under Coat 1.5mm-1.8mm
  • Enduro Clear Poly: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Enduro Pre Cat Lacquer: 1.1mm-1.3mm
  • Enduro Conversion Varnish: 1.1mm-1.3mm

Air caps should be medium size. Contact your supplier to verify proper tip sizes for your specific equipment.

Break your work into sections such as dresser top or drawer fronts. Spraying too large of an area can result in a textured grainy surface. A correctly sprayed finish should appear even and glossy. It is important to spray enough material to allow proper flow and leveling of the finish.

Spray medium wet films at 3-5 wet ml thickness. Practice makes perfect. If you have never sprayed finishes before, take a large piece of cardboard and practice your technique first. Spray water on the cardboard to learn how the gun works. Check your fluid settings and adjust the controls to get comfortable with the spray angles and to develop your technique.

SPRAYING TOPCOATS:

Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. For topcoats, overlap each pass 25% to conceal lines.

Watch our video how to spray water based topcoats here.

SPRAYING WATER BASED WOOD STAINS:

Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass of stain 50% for even coverage and wipe back the excess with an absorbent cloth. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. 

SPRAYING WATER BASED DYE STAINS:

Keep your gun at a 90* angle, 6-8" from the surface. On large flat areas, use wet, even patterns 6 to 8 wide. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. Overlap each pass of stain 50% for even coverage. If coverage is even, there is no need to wipe. If you have issues with uneven coverage, wipe back the excess with an absorbent cloth. For narrow surfaces, reduce the fan pattern to 2-3" to reduce overspray. 

*Troubleshooting Guide for Spraying Water Based Finishes

ROUGH, DRY SURFACE
This is called dry spray. You may have sprayed too lightly.

Re-sand the finish with 320-grit sandpaper and apply a heavier coat. Keep your gun at 6-8" from the surface.

DIMPLES IN THE FINISH
This is called orange peel, caused by spraying in temperatures that are too cool. Cooler temperatures will adversely affect how the finish will level and harden.

Water-based finishes must be applied at temperatures above 65 F. If it is cold enough to wear a sweater it is too cold to apply a water-based finish.

The surface of the wood must also be warm. If you turn the heat on when you enter your shop in the morning, the air heats up quickly but your furniture will still be cold for some time. Check the surface to see if it is warm.

Also, check the temperature of the finish. Warming cold finish by setting the can next to a heater or setting the container in some hot water for 5 minutes will improve the ease of application.

NOTE: Larger dimples are called "fish-eyes" or "craters". Cool temperatures can cause these, but the more likely source is contamination of the finish with either wax or silicone.
 

BLUSH
Blush, the term for a cloudy, milky appearance in the finish, has two causes

1. The most common reason is an incompatible stain. For example, using a water-based topcoat over a heavy oil-based stain. When the top coat is applied, the oil in the stain seeps up through the finish and reacts with the acrylic causing a chemical blush.

To prevent this,

  • Increase dry times when changing from an oil-based finish to a water based finish.
     
    • Allow an oil-based finish to dry 72 hours before a water-based finish.
       
    • Allow a water-based finish to dry 24 hours over an oil-based finish.
       
  • Use a quick-drying water-based stain. If you choose to use oil based stain, seal the stain with a coat of shellac or lacquer sealer. This will provide a barrier between the oil and the acrylic. Proper drying time between the oil stain and finish coats is essential! The other cause for blushing is high humidity.
     
  • Spraying water-based finishes in humidities of over 75% may cause blushing because moisture becomes trapped beneath the finish and cannot evaporate.

    You can prevent this condition by increasing air movement in the finishing area with a fan. All water needs to evaporate is sufficient air movement. You can also improve drying conditions by increasing the temperature in the drying area.
     

2. The surface is not leveling out. In hot temperatures (85°F - 100°F) the finish may dry too fast.

Use General Finishes Extender to open (increase) the dry time. Finishes that dry too fast may not completely level out before all the water evaporates from the finish.

Technique Tips

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*Will Gel Stains Dark with Another Coat?

Yes, each layer will darken your project even more. You can also start with a lighter color Gel Stain and layer on darker colors.

 

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*How Can I Create a Custom Glaze, Wash, Varnish or Stain?

You can design your own custom glazes, stains, washes, and varnishes with General Finishes intermixable water-based products. See tips and recipes below.

For all of the following mixes, GF recommends the following two steps:

  1. Applying a base layer of High Performance Top Coat before applying your custom glaze.
  2. Protect all of these finishes with 2-3 coats of top coat when you are finished.


PASTEL GLAZE/WHITEWASH:

Milk Paint + Winter White Glaze Effects OR Milk Paint + Water Based Whitewash Wood Stain

NOTE: Do not add more than 50% paint. If you add more than 50% you will have so much pigment that it will be difficult to wipe away the finish.


CUSTOM GLAZE:

For example, Pitch Black Glaze Effects + Winter White Glaze Effects

Experiment with proportions and colors.

WOOD STAIN AS A GLAZE:

Water Based Wood Stain + 10% High Performance Top Coat
OR
Oil Based Wood Stain + 10% Mineral Spirits

Note: Make sure that you wait 72 hours before applying a water-based topcoat on top of an oil-based stain.

AGED/VARNISH GLAZE:

Water Based Wood Stain  + High Performance Top Coat 50:50 ratio
OR
Dye Stain + High Performance Top Coat 50:50 ratio

CUSTOM STAIN COLORS:

1 part Milk Paint + 1 part Pre-Stain Natural [50:50 mix]
OR
1 part Milk Paint + 1 part Glaze Effects - Clear Base [50:50 mix]
OR
1 part Milk Paint +  2 parts Water Based Stain Natural [1:2 parts]

Note: Proportions are relative to the color you are reducing. Some colors may require 2 parts clear base to reduce strength, others may require 1. Begin with a 50:50 mix, and add more clear base if necessary.

You can further increase the color palette by mixing 2 or 3 Milk Paint colors together before adding the clear base.

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*I Just Watched Your Video on Dry Brushing Gel Stain. Can I Use Ethynol Alcohol Instead of Mineral Spirits to Keep the Brush Discharged During Application?

Yes, but it will evaporate much more quickly so you will need to re-wet the discharge pad more frequently.

See the video below for how to update existing finishes using a dry brush technique.

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How can I thin Gel Stain?

Gel Stain can be mixed with up to 50% Liquid Oil Stain but be aware that this will thin the viscosity. We recommend starting with 10% Liquid Oil Stain and testing to your satisfaction. Add more Liquid Stain as needed up to 50%. The mix will be thin and more translucent with less color saturation and intensity, but will not lose any of its properties for adhesion and curing.

 

How to thin Gel Stain to create a glaze:

We recommend adding up to 10% mineral spirits. You can add more mineral spirits, but test first. The mixture will thin out quickly and also reduces color intensity. Using more than 10% can affect the performance and durability of the finish, but as a glaze, this is not as critical an issue because your topcoat will protect the finish.

 

 

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*What is the Best Applicator to use for Milk Paint and Water Based Topcoat?

Either bristle or foam brushes will work well with Milk Paint and Top Coat. The folks at GF might use several types of brushes for a project.

For example:

  • We like to use a bristle brush (which loads up more paint) to get Milk Paint on the surface, and then use a water or Extender dampened foam brush to smooth out the finish.​
  • ​​​​​​Bristle brushes are particularly helpful on vertical and detailed surfaces but they can produce subtle texture.
  • Foam brushes tend to produce a smoother finish which can be particularly helpful on flat horizontal surfaces.
  • Pad Applicators or paint rollers are also helpful on larger horizontal surfaces such as a table top.

For folks who don't want to invest in several brushes, the foam brush is our recommendation.

The very best application method is spraying.

 

*How Do I Remove the Smell of Tobacco from Furniture Before Refinishing?

  1. Spray your project inside and out with Ozuim Sanitizer.
  2. Place a box or bowl of charcoal briquettes inside your project.
  3. Cover your entire project with plastic and let it sit for 24 hours.
  4. Clean your project with a Scotch-Brite pad and a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water.
  5. Sand the surface with a 150-grit or 180-grit sanding pad. We recommend Softback Sanding Sponges.
  6. If there is still a bit of lingering odor, a coat of shellac may help.

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How do I know if my finish is dry enough to recoat?

There are several ways to determine whether a surface is dry:
OIL BASED products are dry if they are no longer tacky and do not emit a smell.

WATER BASED products are try if they no longer feel cool to the touch and a powder will form with light sanding.

 

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Should I use Pre-Stain Conditioner Before Staining a Douglas Fir Door to prevent blotching?

Douglas Fir is a difficult wood to stain evenly. A 50|50 mix of your Exterior 450 stain color and Exterior 450 Clear would be a better choice for an exterior conditioner. Blotching may still occur even with this procedure.

After applying the conditioner mix, let it dry 2-3 hours. Allow more time in humid weather. Then a apply the stain color of your choice. Multiple coats will deepen the color.

Watch Exterior 450 Topcoat Overview Video Here

Watch Exterior 450 Stain Overview Video Here

*How Do I Create a Glaze with General Finishes Gel Stain?

Yes - we recommend adding up to 10% mineral spirits. You can add more mineral spirits, but test first. The mixture will thin out quickly. Using more than 10%  can affect the performance and durability of the finish, but as a glaze, this is not as critical an issue because your topcoat will protect the finish.

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Can I use steel wool to buff out water based finishes?

Never use steel wool with water based finishes because the particles can become embedded into your project and rust. Klingspor Synthetic Wool and Mera MIrlon 1500 synthetic wool are great alternatives.   

Steel Wool is still an acceptable option for oil based finishes. Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands. 

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*How Do I Prevent Bleed Through When Applying Whitewash Over Espresso Water Based Wood Stain?

Water Based Stains will always exhibit a bit of bleed through. When glazing with any color over water stains, we recommend some type of seal coat is applied first.
 
Unfortunately, the two colors you have chosen do not work very well together. Expresso will always bleed if Whitewash is applied directly over top. In the future, seal the Espresso stain with a coat of Shellac, and then General Finishes High Performance Topcoat. Allow both to dry, then apply Whitewash as a glaze (1 part stain, 1 part topcoat mix).
 
Here are two remedies we recommend to fix for bleeding that has occurred:
  1. Strip away finish and start over.
    Stain with Espresso, top with Shellac, and then with 1-2 coats High Performance. After the HIgh Performance has dried, apply the Whitewash as a glaze (1:1 stain & HPTC). Seal with High Performance.
     
  2. Paint over the bleeding stain.
    Seal current finish with Shellac and then paint with Seagull Gray Milk Paint.
Any time you apply a light stain over a dark stain there is a possibility of bleed through. Therefore, it's important to seal off the base color first.

If the look of the wood grain is not important, Dark Chocolate Milk Paint is an exact match to Java Gel Stain when painted, and it could be used as an alternative base color.

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Should I use a coat of Gel Topcoat on raw wood to achieve an more even color before staining?

While Gel Stain can be applied over an existing finish, it was originally engineered for raw wood surfaces. We prefer applying the Gel Stain over a slip coat of mineral spirits instead of topcoat as shown in this video, "How to Apply Gel Stain to Raw Wood"  http://bit.ly/1WwDUQ1

The slip coat will reduce the drag and help the stain "glide on" easier. The other important technique shown in this video is to apply the stain liberally in sections and remove the excess quickly. Gel Stain is so pigment rich you will get an uneven application if you try to dab it on with a dry rag.

Applying over a layer of top coat is acceptable, but there are two big benefits of applying the stain directly to the wood or over a slip coat.

1) The beauty of the grain is highlighted. This effect will be greatly diminished if the stain is applied over an existing finish.

2) Less coats are required to obtain a dark color.

Preparation and application techniques along with dry time between coats are all different when applying Gel Stain over raw wood vs. an existing finish.

Dry time differences:

http://bit.ly/TZTLwL

 

*Which General Finishes Products Would Work Best on a Restaurant Table?

GF has two products that would work well.

For non-professional finishers, we recommend using General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Topcoat.

Arm-R-Seal is oil based and will amber. Be sure to apply liberally with a foam brush or roller, letting the product self-level a bit. A liberal application will help you avoid streaks caused by back-brushing and pressure. Stir product thoroughly before and during application because flatting agents settle quickly in a solvent base finish.

For experienced professional finishers who spray, we recommend our two-step General Finishes Conversion Varnish, which would cure in half the time and dries clear.

Even though General Finishes products are water resistant, they are not impervious to standing water condensation (like an epoxy finish). As with any fine furniture finish, spills should be wiped up in a timely manner. We recommend using coasters to protect your wood from water condensation and pot holders to protect from heat.

*What Wood Finish Would Be Best to Use On an Existing Wicker Finish?

It would depend on whether you plan to use the furniture outside or under the protection of a roof. Theoretically, both water and oil-based products could be used.

For example, you could "antique" wicker with thinned Gel Stain to pop up the color depth on an aging piece of natural wicker. However, Gel Stain is not exterior-rated and is very thick, making it cumbersome to apply and wipe off on a highly textured surface such as wicker.

In general, we would recommend using water-based finishes on wicker because they can be spayed.

For an exterior finish, use our Milk Paint because it is an exterior rated paint, does not require a topcoat, and has superb adhesion and color longevity characteristics. If using in an exterior space, clear coating with Exterior 450 is optional.

One challenge would be proper preparation over an existing surface. Prep sanding is not effective because of all the varied surfaces of wicker, so thorough cleaning would more essential. Use a brush and a 50|50 mixture of denatured alcohol and water.  

The second challenge is that wicker moves when used so be prepared for cracking if you are using paint. Fortunately, a casual look is a popular one for porches and cracking would be acceptable.

 

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*How Important is the "Hardness" of a Wood Finish?

The hardness properties of a wood finish are formulated around the objectives of use. A hard finish is desirable on projects that get heavy wear such as kitchen cabinets or table tops. 

But in other situations, such as an outdoor topcoat, a desired property of the finish is elongation, which allows the topcoat to expand and contract through different extremes of temperature. 

A flooring finish is another example where hardness is not the major objective of the formulation. Just like outdoor furniture, wood floors expand and contract through the seasons of the year, responding to heat, air conditioning and changes in humidity. The floor finish needs to elongate or flex as the wood moves.

This can be problematic for floors which are often subject to heavy use, including dogs nails. Pet nails will not scratch a good floor finish all the way through the wood, but the nails will indent or imprint the surface of the floor.

It is impossible to combine equal properties of flexibility and hardness in a floor finish, so you have to accept some limitations at the outset. You can improve the life of your wood floor finish by selecting a denser wood for your floors, hickory, maple or white oak instead of pine for instance.

Or just live with the indentations. This is another instance where dogs rule.

Heavy sunlight will also affect harder finishes applied in sun-saturated areas such as window sills, causing finishes to become brittle and crack.

You can keep costs down and have a better result if you match the properties of the finish to the needs of the project.

One of General Finishes hardest water based topcoats is General Finishes Enduro Conversion Varnish, which requires a catalyst and is recommend for use by professionals. It cures in half the time of most topcoats, allowing the finisher to pack and ship sooner, but the price point would make it overkill for other uses. Other factoids:

It is impossible to combine equal properties of flexibility, hardness and chemical resistance in a finish, so be sure to select the correct product for your finishing project.

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What is the best way to obtain a more durable finish with a flat sheen?

The popular flat sheens are lovely but they have different attributes than glossy finishes. The flatting agents required to reduce sheen in flat or matte topcoats also slightly reduce clarity, water resistance, durability and resistance to chemicals such as ketchup, soap, chemical cleaners, or ammonia. This is not much of a concern in low use areas but is important for table tops or kitchen cabinets.

Here is a tip to improve the performance of your finish and still obtain a matte sheen: 
Use a semi-gloss sheen for the first two coats and a flat for the third for optimum performance. 
 
General Finishes is constantly seeking new resins and additives to improve the performance of our finishes.

Does adding Dye Stain Reducer to Dye Stain lighten the color?

Yes, one of its uses is to dilute dye stain colors. Dye Stain reducer is the clear base the we use when manufacturing our dye stains. We make the reducer first, then add the dye color.

It is easy to make your own custom color Dye Stain by adding in 10% increments until you achieve the color you want. It is not possible to mix too much of our dye stain or reducer together.

Additionally, General Finishes Water Based Stains can be mixed into the reducer, which will lighten the color and thin the viscosity so it will penetrate deeper into the wood.

You can also mix other manufacturers dyes such as TransTint dye concentrate, sold in many wood working stores.

We do not recommend using water to lighten dye stain. Reducer has ingredients to help keep color molecules dispersed evenly in the can.

 

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*What Topcoat Should I Use on Padauk Wood?

Padauk Exotic Wood

We recommend an oil-based finish such as General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.

Oily woods can be tricky with any topcoat. The high oil content affects the drying process of the finish coats and Padauk has a very high oil content. Sometimes oily woods dry fine and sometimes they take weeks.

Try wiping the wood with alcohol or acetone to dry the oils before coating. This technique may help but does not work all of the time - each piece of wood is different.

To be safe, always plan on a long dry time.

 

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What are the benefits of using sanding sealer before applying topcoat?

General Finishes Enduro Sanding Sealer

There are four benefits to using sanding sealer as the first seal coat prior to topcoat

  1. Faster production time. Sanding sealer is a softer finish designed for faster sanding and faster drying.
  2. Save money - it costs less than topcoat if your project warrants purchasing a third product.
  3. The film builds (thickness) faster because the particle size is larger.
  4. It has strong adhesion properties. It does not stop tannin or dye bleed through, but it definitely improves adhesion.    

However, it only makes sense if your project is large enough to warrant the purchase of a third product or you are a professional volume user. 

Sanding sealer can be used over many surfaces:

  • Raw wood: Use as the first coat when clear coating raw wood. 
  • Painted Wood: Use as the first coat when clear coating painted surfaces. 
  • Stained wood: Use as the first coat when clear coating a stained surface.
  • Clean, prepped, existing surfaces: Use as the first clear coat if faster film build and improved adhesion are desired. 

Application

  • We recommend no more than 1-2 coats, then finish with 1-2 coats of topcoat.
  • Sanding sealer dries tack-free in 10-20 minutes. Drying Time: 1-2 hours under normal conditions. (70F -50% humidity)  
  • Sanding sealer can be used with all of our water-based and oil-based finishes EXCEPT Endur-o-var.
  • For more application notes, see our product page

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO USE:

  1. Apply one coat of sanding sealer.
  2. Finish sand.
  3. Apply two coats of topcoat, finish sanding in between coats.

Here is a video on finish sanding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lrOfipJZVk

 

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Can I apply Glaze Effects under UV Cure Urethane Topcoat?

Yes, General Finishes Glaze Effects can be applied under the UV Cure Urethane topcoat. We recommend applying a coat of General Finishes Enduro Clear Poly before applying glaze for more control of the color.

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*How Do I Prep Kitchen Cabinets with an Existing Finish Before Painting or Recoating with a Stain?

This response is true of prepping and existing finish on furniture, but kitchen cabinets are more problematic because they are work areas where grease, steam, food splatters and oil from hands are common. Prep is basically degreasing and abrading the surface for better adhesion. Oil or substances on hands really show up on a failed re-finish around doorknobs and hands if the surface is not cleaned thoroughly.

Because of this, General Finishes believes there is no such thing as a "no prep" paint. We would be leading our customers down the path failure if we touted our products as such. Dirt, grime, oil from hands, wax, dusting sprays that contain silicone, oil soaps or wax prevent good adhesion causing the possibility of chipping, peeling and flaking - all signs of a failed finish. This is the number one reason we see for finish failure. The second is not allowing enough dry time.

The heart of the problem is that we often don't know what was used on the cabinets previously. If dusting sprays that contain silicone have previously been used, the risk of finish failure is high. There are no guarantees with silicone - it is almost impossible to remove. Here are our recommendations. It sounds like a lot of work because it is - charge more.

CLEANING AND PRIMING:

  1. Scrub with a degreasing detergent such as Spic and Span or Dawn soap first. Follow with a thorough rinse to remove all the soap.

    WATCH this video about cleaning with Dawn detergent.
     
  2. Clean with a 50/50 mix of water and denatured alcohol. Let your piece dry thoroughly.

    We prefer a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water because it does not contain phosphates, is inexpensive, is readily available and does not require rinsing. You can use commercial furniture cleaners but check the label for phosphates - they will leave a residue behind that requires rinsing.
     
  3. Scuff sand with a 320 Grit Klingspor Ultra Flex Sanding PAD (or 400 grit sandpaper) and remove the dust. There are other sanding PADS out there - just make sure the grit is not too aggressive or you man sand down corners and edges down to bare wood.
     
  4. Put down a coat of General Finishes Sanding Sealer. GF Sanding Sealer can be used over cleaned and prepped existing finishes that will create a strong barrier with superior adhesion properties. The resin particle is larger so it builds fast, and finish sanding is a breeze.

    (Note: We cannot comment on other sanding sealers because several on the market state dry times that are so short that our paint and stains would fail.)
     
  5. You can apply Gel Stain over the sanding sealer after 24 hours.
     
  6. You can apply paint or water based stain over the sanding sealer after 3 hours.
  7. You can apply a white primer over the sanding sealer if you want to color correct for a white paint.

​​​​​​​Watch how to power prep high use furniture finishes for stain or paint.

OTHER CLEANING INFO:

  • You can use vinegar, bleach or ammonia solutions, but our experience shows they are usually not aggressive enough for kitchen cabinets. We do not recommend using ammonia with water-based finishes as it can cause the finish to blush (turn white).
     
  • Never use steel wool with water based products because the particles can become embedded and rust. Some alternatives are Klingspor Synthetic Wool and Merka Mirlon 1500 synthetic wool.
     
  • Steel wool is still an acceptable option with oil-based finishes. GF recommends using oil-free 0000 wool from Liberon because it doesn't shred as easily as the hardware store brands.
     
  • NEVER USE mineral spirits to prep clean before applying water-based finishes. You can correct this problem by cleaning again with a 50/50 mix of denatured alcohol and water. Let your project dry 24 hours before applying water-based products.

PROTECT YOURSELF
There are two ways to protect yourself:

  1. Use a contract and have customers sign off on a warranty. It is extremely exhausting and frightening to be faced with a customer angry over a failed finish. You cannot warrant a finish over unknown substances. Here is a suggestion for your contracts:

    We cannot warrant finishes over an existing piece of furniture without knowing the history. If products containing silicone dusting powders, oil soaps or waxes have been previously used on the piece, they may contaminate a new finish and prevent adhesion. In these situations, it is best to strip and sand the entire piece. Occasionally, a previous wax finish or silicone may be impossible to remove.

    ______(Initials) I acknowledge that this piece has never been waxed/polished with a silicon-based dusting spray or cleaned with oil soaps.

    ______(Initials) I have no knowledge of waxes, silicone-based dusting sprays or oil soap products being used on my cabinets.
     
  2. Take the most used drawer or door in the kitchen and test your finish schedule first. And charge for it.

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*Can I Use Steel Wool with Water Based Finishes?

No, because the particles can become embedded and rust. Some alternatives are Klingspor Synthetic Wool and Meka Mirlon 1500 synthetic wool.

Steel wool is still an acceptable option for oil-based finishes. GF recommends using "oil-free" 0000 wool from Liberon because it doesn't shred as easy as hardware store brands.

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*Is Topcoat Required Between Gel Stain and Water Based Glaze Effects?

Yes - this is not a good place to take shortcuts. GF Gel Stain gets its deep rich hue from a large number of colorants. Seal the stain with a topcoat before applying glaze to prevent "color pull."

The glaze will also glide more easily over the surface after topcoat is applied, allowing you greater control of how much color you want to use. Be sure to wait 72 hours when applying water-based finishes over oil-based finishes.

Here is a sample finish schedule:

  1. Prep sand and clean
  2. Apply stain
  3. Apply a layer of topcoat to prevent color bleed thru and make glazing easier
  4. Apply Glaze Effects
  5. Apply 2-3 coats of topcoat to protect the entire project

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What Sanding Equipment Should I Use?

Festool 125 ES

GF's recommendation: (there are other great sanders in the market. These are the ones we are familiar with) Most pros own more than one sander as they are designed for different objectives.

SANDERS

1. Festool and Mirka systems are designed for the serious, high production professional. 

  • Festool is a system not limited to just sanding equipment. All Festool tools hook up to the Festool's dust collection. For those of you in the Chicago area, JCLicht carries the full Festool line.
  • The Mirka is a great sanding system and is comparable to the Festool. Higher-end users report finding this system worth the cost.

2. Bosch offers the GET75-6N 6 In. Dual-Mode Random Orbit Sander with decent performance at a more palatable entry-level pricepoint and also makes a great dust collector.

3. SurfPrep will adapt to any dust collector. Surf Prep's foam sanding pads are now compatible to several models of sanders in other brands.

DUST COLLECTION
Any good shop vac will adapt to any sander that has a dust port connection. Rockler sells a great adaptor to connect your shop vac to any sander. Woodcraft offers Festool and sells many models of dust collection.
 

SANDPAPER AND OTHER ABRASIVES

  • Check out the pricing on sandpaper for all sanders at Klingspors Woodworking Shop. Klingspor is an abrasive manufacturer that has options for multiple sanders. They have 9-hole paper that fits all Festool sander for half the price of most other places.
  • All the Festool sanders are 9 holes on 5" sizes including the 5" Jetstream. The 6" models have 17 holes.
  • Mirka makes Abranet which is a mesh abrasive pad that works on all types of sanders.

SIZE

  • Most customers would find the 5" is suitable for furniture and cabinets. We use the big 6" Rotex on large flat surfaces like tabletops.
  • Surf Prep excels at the specialty 3x4" rectangular shaped cabinet sander and their big 3 2/3" x 7" sanders for flat tabletops

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Buffing Out the Final Coat of Finish

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*How Do I Reduce the Sheen of an Oil Based Topcoat?

Rub down the finish with 0000 steel wool and General Finishes Orange Oil to lower the sheen.

Liberon 0000 Steel Wool is a good choice for steel wool, as it does not shred as easily as the hardware store brands.

Never use steel wool with water-based finishes. The steel wool particles can become embedded into your project and rust.

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How do I repair a section that I have buffed through using Enduro-Var over an epoxy on a guitar

Our first concern is the use of the epoxy. Although you have may had success with this process previously, we do not recommend the use of Enduro-Var with epoxy or any oil based products. Enduro-Var works well on its own or with GFs water based finishes. There is a great possibility that future finishes can fail. 
 
Nor do we recommend adding denatured alcohol, which should not be used in any of General Finishes water based products. Denatured alcohol can change the polarity of a finish formula, kicking out polymer particles that would look like grit on the surface. Denatured alcohol could also deactivate the defoamers in the formula.
 
The use of Extender won't help you. It is a water based product and will not melt through existing layers of finish in the same manner that solvent finishes do.
 
We interpret that you are trying to remove witness lines which are basically sanding marks. For your current situation, we recommend attempting to build the area with just Enduro-Var, then buffing out with a 2000-3000 grit. You may have to sand down and start over if that is not successful.
 
Future forward. Use Enduro-Var on its own. Although it is a favorite among Luthiers, it is a unique hybrid finish that does not pay well with other finishes.

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*Is it safe to buff Arm-R-Seal with an auto polish?

We know of many customers that have achieved great results from buffing Arm-R-Seal with auto polishes, providing that the finish has cured for 7 to 10 days.

As with all products that are not manufactured by General Finishes, always test for compatibility on a hidden area of your project before getting started.  

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*How Do I Buff Out High Performance Water Based Topcoat to a High Gloss?

There are several techniques by Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Products:

DRY BUFF WITH MIRKA ROYAL MICRO PAPER.

Using Mirka Royal Micro sandpaper, always start with 1500-grit sandpaper. Begin with a small area, make 2-3 passes, then evaluate results. Go to a heavier grit if surface irregularities are not fully removed. Finish with 1500-grit paper.

DRY/WET BUFF WITH ABRALON POLISHING DISCS.

Start by dry sanding with Abralon 2000-grit, and then 4000-grit. Start slowly, monitor to see if buildup is occurring. A large sized table might take 5-25 sheets of paper.

If needed, lubricate by moistening with General Finishes Satin Finishing Wax, mineral spirits, or naphtha. Never use water as a lubricant.

If lubricated, one sheet of 1000-grit or 1500-grit should do the entire table.

BUFFING/POLISHING WITH PRESTA POLISHING KITS.

Spray Presta polish on buffing pad stuff to lubricate the pad. Apply a quarter-sized dab of polish to sand one section. Spread with pad. Continue section by section. Mist buffing pad with Presta lubricating material when it gets too dry. You should be able to use a buffing pad on 10-20 tables before washing and reusing.
 
When done, mist entire surface with and buff with a micro-cloth to remove splatter

NOTE: Never wet sand a water-based finish.

*How Can I Buff Enduro-Var Gloss to a Higher Gloss?

Contributed by Jeff Jewitt of Homestead Finishing Supplies

Day 1:

  • Prep sand the wood with 220-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a wet coat of General Finishes Enduro-Var Gloss and dry for 2 hours.
  • Level sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a second wet coat and dry for 2 hours.
  • Lightly sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Spray a third wet coat and allow to dry overnight.

Day 2:

  • Level sand with 320-grit sandpaper.
  • Wipe down with water mixed with 5% Denatured Alcohol.
  • Spray a fourth wet coat 2-3 mils thick and dry 1 hour.
  • Spray 3 more coats, 1 hour between coats, for a total of 4 coats the second day.

Let your project dry 1 week, then:

  • Level sand dry with Mirka P800.
  • Dry sand with Mirka P1200.
  • Dry sand with 2000-grit Mirka Abralon.

Note: Do not use any lubricants of any type for sanding.

Final:

  • Buff 3M Finesse-It Material on with foam buffing pad to high gloss.

 

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*How Do I Remove Brush Strokes from the 3rd Coat of High Performance Polyurethane?

Sand down the final finish with a 220-grit foam sanding pad, and then add another layer of General Finishes High Performance PolyurethaneTopcoat. Apply liberally than you did previously without heavy back-brushing.

Let the topcoat self-level a bit - it will tighten down as it dries.

If it's above 80°F or if the humidity is less than 70% in the space you're working, we recommend adding 10% GF Extender to the topcoat to improve open time.

Watch how to apply a water-based topcoat to a large surface with a paint pad applicator here.

*Can I Use Orange Oil To Rub or Buff a Finish To a High Gloss?

Rubbing or Buffing out a Finish:

  1. Shake container well.
  2. Wipe on a thin, even coat with a clean cloth.
  3. Let sit 1-2 minutes.
  4. Buff off the excess with a buffing or sanding pad (see below) in the direction of the wood grain. The higher/finer grit you use, the easier it will be to achieve a high-gloss finish.
  5. Buffing Tools:
    1. Norton Abrasives, Yellow Block
      • 1000-grit, 1500-grit, 2000-grit
      • Creates a high-gloss finish
    2. Klingspor Fusion Pads
      • 2800- to 3500-grit
      • Ideal for painted and gloss finishes
    3. Klingspor Superfine Sanding Pad
      • 220-grit
      • General purpose option for rubbing out topcoats and paints with a flat or satin sheen.
    4. Merka Mirlon Pads
      • Total 1500 (gray)
      • Total 2500 (gold)
      • Ideal for oil-based finishes or between coats of paint

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Dry Times for Finishes Applied Over an Existing Finished Surface

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*What is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?

Dry time is the recommended length of time between coats of product, often called recoat time, and cure time is the length of time recommended before subjecting your finished project to daily use.

The following factors can influence your dry time:

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

All of General Finishes products' dry and cure time recommendations are subject to the conditions of the room in which you are refinishing and storing your piece. Ideal conditions are 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and 70% humidity. Cooler temperatures and high humidity levels can prolong dry time any from 8-10 hours.

APPLYING OIL AND WATER-BASED PRODUCTS TO THE SAME PROJECT

When applying an oil-based product over a water-based product and vice versa, dry time increases. It's extremely important to be sure your first application of finish has completely dried before applying the next layer. When switching from an oil-based product to a water-based product, wait 72 hours to apply your next coat of product. When switching from a water-based product to an oil-based product, wait 24 hours.

YOUR STARTING SURFACE

Applying product to a raw wood surface will result in a shorter dry time. When applying over an existing finish, dry time increases.

METHOD OF APPLICATION

Painting your finish on will require a  longer dry time. If you are applying and then wiping off, or spraying, dry time is less.

Before adding additional coats of product, the following DRY times should be honored:

The following are average CURE times based on recommended temperature and humidity:

  • 21 days for water-based products
  • 30 days for oil-based products
  • You can use a piece lightly after about 7 days but be cautious - the finish will still be curing for another 2 or 3 weeks.

Some of General Finishes wait times might seem a bit generous but we need to account for all variables beyond our control. You can test your surface for dryness ahead of schedule by knowing what to look for. There are two ways to tell if it is an oil-based product is dry. If it is no longer tacky and it doesn't smell, it is dry. You can tell if a water-based product is dry by touching it. If its cool to the touch, it's not dry. If you can sand a water-based topcoat to a powder, its dry.  

Note - General Finishes Enduro-Var should never be used in conjunction with oil-based products.

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*What Is the Best Temperature to Apply Wood Finishes?

Ideal Conditions are 70 degrees F and 50-70% humidity.

Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems, and a space below 55 degrees F is definitely too cold.

WATER-BASED TOPCOATS

One issue caused by cold temperatures with water-based topcoats is the development of dimples in the finish called Orange Peel.

The colder your space it is, the longer you have to wait between coats. Cold temperatures slow the dry time and affect how quickly the finish will level, harden and cure. Our easy rule of thumb is; if it is cold enough to wear a sweater it is too cold to apply a water-based finish.

If you must apply WATER BASED TOP COATS in cool conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator to speed water evaporation from the finish. Make sure the finish and the surface of the place you are working on are at room temperature. You can warm up the finish by placing the can in hot water for 5 minutes beforehand, and if possible, move the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

OIL-BASED FINISHES

Oil-based finishes are not as affected by cooler temperatures, but lower temps will still slow the oxidation of the finish. GF again suggests moving the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

You can apply oil-based finishes in as low as 60 degrees if necessary.

WARNING: Applying OIL BASED finishes near an open flame or combustible heater is VERY DANGEROUS. The mineral spirit mixes with fumes from kerosene, for example, creating an unsafe environment.

Conversely, if you are working in HOT, DRY climates any WATER BASE finish will dry faster. General Finishes Extender can be added to water based products to increase dry time in those situations.

Ideal temperature to store product: 65-75 degrees F. Garages are not a good place to store any finish.

NOTE: We have been asked whether it is OK to paint in a 50 degrees F shop if the paint is stored at a safe temperature beforehand, and the finished piece is moved into a room with a safe temperature to dry. This approach might work, but it's risky.

See video tutorial: Tips on Storing Leftover Finishes

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Dry Times for Finishes Applied Over Raw Wood

Return

*What is the Difference Between Dry Time and Cure Time?

Dry time is the recommended length of time between coats of product, often called recoat time, and cure time is the length of time recommended before subjecting your finished project to daily use.

The following factors can influence your dry time:

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

All of General Finishes products' dry and cure time recommendations are subject to the conditions of the room in which you are refinishing and storing your piece. Ideal conditions are 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and 70% humidity. Cooler temperatures and high humidity levels can prolong dry time any from 8-10 hours.

APPLYING OIL AND WATER-BASED PRODUCTS TO THE SAME PROJECT

When applying an oil-based product over a water-based product and vice versa, dry time increases. It's extremely important to be sure your first application of finish has completely dried before applying the next layer. When switching from an oil-based product to a water-based product, wait 72 hours to apply your next coat of product. When switching from a water-based product to an oil-based product, wait 24 hours.

YOUR STARTING SURFACE

Applying product to a raw wood surface will result in a shorter dry time. When applying over an existing finish, dry time increases.

METHOD OF APPLICATION

Painting your finish on will require a  longer dry time. If you are applying and then wiping off, or spraying, dry time is less.

Before adding additional coats of product, the following DRY times should be honored:

The following are average CURE times based on recommended temperature and humidity:

  • 21 days for water-based products
  • 30 days for oil-based products
  • You can use a piece lightly after about 7 days but be cautious - the finish will still be curing for another 2 or 3 weeks.

Some of General Finishes wait times might seem a bit generous but we need to account for all variables beyond our control. You can test your surface for dryness ahead of schedule by knowing what to look for. There are two ways to tell if it is an oil-based product is dry. If it is no longer tacky and it doesn't smell, it is dry. You can tell if a water-based product is dry by touching it. If its cool to the touch, it's not dry. If you can sand a water-based topcoat to a powder, its dry.  

Note - General Finishes Enduro-Var should never be used in conjunction with oil-based products.

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*What Is the Best Temperature to Apply Wood Finishes?

Ideal Conditions are 70 degrees F and 50-70% humidity.

Refinishing furniture in a space that is below or above the 65-75 degrees F range can lead to problems, and a space below 55 degrees F is definitely too cold.

WATER-BASED TOPCOATS

One issue caused by cold temperatures with water-based topcoats is the development of dimples in the finish called Orange Peel.

The colder your space it is, the longer you have to wait between coats. Cold temperatures slow the dry time and affect how quickly the finish will level, harden and cure. Our easy rule of thumb is; if it is cold enough to wear a sweater it is too cold to apply a water-based finish.

If you must apply WATER BASED TOP COATS in cool conditions, add General Finishes Accelerator to speed water evaporation from the finish. Make sure the finish and the surface of the place you are working on are at room temperature. You can warm up the finish by placing the can in hot water for 5 minutes beforehand, and if possible, move the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

OIL-BASED FINISHES

Oil-based finishes are not as affected by cooler temperatures, but lower temps will still slow the oxidation of the finish. GF again suggests moving the piece back into warmer temperature after applying finishes for the 7 days of cure time.

You can apply oil-based finishes in as low as 60 degrees if necessary.

WARNING: Applying OIL BASED finishes near an open flame or combustible heater is VERY DANGEROUS. The mineral spirit mixes with fumes from kerosene, for example, creating an unsafe environment.

Conversely, if you are working in HOT, DRY climates any WATER BASE finish will dry faster. General Finishes Extender can be added to water based products to increase dry time in those situations.

Ideal temperature to store product: 65-75 degrees F. Garages are not a good place to store any finish.

NOTE: We have been asked whether it is OK to paint in a 50 degrees F shop if the paint is stored at a safe temperature beforehand, and the finished piece is moved into a room with a safe temperature to dry. This approach might work, but it's risky.

See video tutorial: Tips on Storing Leftover Finishes

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Color correction (toning)

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My Douglas Fir table has a slight pinkish cast. How can I tone down the pink and still maintain a light stain color?

First, test your surface to get a sense for the color present in the wood. To do this, wipe the surface down with mineral spirits (if you are expecting to use an oil finish) or plain water (if you are expecting to use a water based finish). See the following GF video demonstration for a better understanding of this process.

Next, apply product. Here are two recipes for a lightly stained look:

OIL BASED finish: Create a 50/50 mix of Nutmeg Gel Stain and Gel Satin Top Coat for a natural tone. Seal your surface with 2-3 coats of oil based top coat.

WATER BASED finish: Create a 50/50 mix of Light Brown Dye Stain and High Performance Top Coat or Enduro-Var Top Coat. Seal your surface with 2-3 coats of water based top coat. Remember: High Performance dries clear but Enduro-Var ambers.

Test your mixture in a hidden area of your project before proceeding with the entire project.

 

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What is toning finishes?

General Finishes Dye Stain

Toning is the process of adding colorant, either dye or pigmented stain into a top coat and then applying over an entire piece in order to subtly deepen the color. All of our stains can be used: Stock base colors of RTM, Water-Based Wood Stains or Dye stains. If you are new to toning, we recommend starting with Dyes stains, which can be easier to use as they only contain dyes and no pigments. 

All of General Finishes water-based topcoats with the exception of Conversion Vanish can be tinted to create lightly colored finishes for toning.  It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO TEST to your satisfaction before application to your entire project. 

You can also tone with Gel Stains - see these videos: 

  • http://bit.ly/VideoGFDarkenFinishByToning
  • http://bit.ly/VideoGFUpdateCabinetsByToning

There are limits anytime you add pigments or dyes to water-based topcoats. Toning should always be done in small increments to achieve the desired color. If you are starting with a light honey tone door and you want to create an Espresso color this will take multiple coats of color including base coat of stain followed by several toning coats. It is impossible to achieve a radical change in color in coat application.

A good rule to follow when tinting is starting with a minimal amount of stain or dye, 5-10% by volume. Some colors work better than others. Normally 1-2 ounces or stain per quart of clear topcoat is sufficient to create a toner. Always test color first and strain material through a fine mesh filter to remove any undissolved particle of pigment. Once you have achieved the desired color tone apply a clear topcoat to lock in the color.

Some tinting recommendations are:

  • Do not exceed 13 ounces per gallon. Excess amounts of colorant can create surface defects and decrease the viscosity (causing drips, sag, etc.).
  • Tinting a product black only requires about 6 to 8 ounces (based on strength of colorant).

Can I adjust the color of my Dye Stain?

Yes, there are a couple of ways. Dye Stain Reducer is the clear base that we use when manufacturing General Finishes Dye Stains. The Reducer is made first, then the dye color is added.

It is easy to make your own custom color Dye Stain by adding in 10% increments of Dye Stain color to Reducer until you achieve the color you want. It is not possible to mix too much of our Dye Stain and Reducer together.

Additionally, General Finishes Water Based Wood Stains can be mixed into the Reducer, which will lighten the color and thin the viscosity so it will penetrate deeper into the wood.

You can also mix other manufacturers dyes such as TransTint dye concentrate, sold in many wood working stores.

We do NOT RECOMMEND using water to lighten dye stain. Reducer has ingredients to help keep color molecules dispersed evenly in the can.

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